Developing your Dojo: through depth
The theme for this week of Back to Dojo, and next, is “Developing your Dojo”. On that basis, I thought I’d do a pair of blog posts that cover the two approaches to using educational content to do so: Going broad, or going deep. Going broad, by covering new and different languages and topics will be the subject of next week’s blog. Going deep is what I’ll be talking about today.
What do I mean by “depth”?
I mean digging deeper into languages, tools etc. that you’ve already covered at an introductory level. Learning more advanced features and a more professional approach to using them. For programming languages this can be breaking the code up over multiple functions or files for maintainability, possibly working on larger projects in groups, and learning more powerful and involved features of the language. For hardware, this could be moving from simple projects with lights and sound to involving sensors, cameras, etc. and making something that solves (or makes a good attempt at solving) a real world problem.
Why choose depth?
There are a number of reasons you might choose to focus on a small number of topics at your Dojo and really dig into them:
- The topics you’ve tried have proved particularly engaging with your Ninjas and they want to learn more about them.
- Your Mentors are familiar with, or skilled in, those topics and have a preference for continuing to work with them.
- You want to help Ninjas develop true mastery of a particular set of tech skills, rather than a broad understanding of many topics (no reason not to do both, in time!).
- You want to encourage more detailed planning and larger scale in Ninja’s projects.
What to watch out for?
If you do go down this route there are a few things you might want to watch for and take action if you spot them.
- Ninjas who were not interested in the topics at a shallow level may become totally disinterested moving deeper into them. For these Ninjas, you may need to offer some alternative activity (see next week’s “Going Broad” post for ideas!).
- The increasing level of complexity may leave some Ninjas behind. You need to make sure they don’t see this as a failure and understand that the skills they’ve already developed enable them to create some really cool stuff. These Ninjas can continue to reenforce their existing skills by coming up with new projects to attempt (with Mentors’ assistance!), or try something different, until they feel comfortable tackling the more advanced material again.
- Ninjas progressing before they’ve really understood earlier material. Completing a project where most, or all, of the code is somewhere on the screen/page (as is the case with most Sushi Cards) can be achieved without fully understanding what you’re doing or why it works. However, later material may well assume that those things are understood. I’m not advising we stop and test Ninjas before advancing them, but if you do see Ninjas who are struggling due to not knowing earlier concepts, maybe suggest an alternative project that reenforces those earlier principles. The community created content available in the Resources section can be a great source of such projects.
Which content to use
We’ve extended three of our most popular series of Sushi Cards all the way out to the Advanced level. You can use these to help Ninjas trying to deepen their skills in these areas:
Intermediate Scratch Sushi Cards—Create some cool line patterns and learn new Scratch tools and concepts in the process.
Advanced Scratch Sushi Cards—Starting from some code we supply, build your own platformer game!
HTML & CSS
Intermediate HTML & CSS Sushi Cards—Newly updated (released today!) These Sushi Cards help Ninjas make their website that much more awesome with new CSS tricks and animations
Advanced HTML & CSS Sushi Cards—Newly updated (released today!) Learn how to layout a web page like a pro and create a cool photo gallery.
As you can see, four of those six are totally new updates of our web development Sushi Cards. We’d love to hear what you think of them and any suggestions to improve them in the forums, on Slack, in email, wherever!